Divorce in British Columbia

People who wish to divorce in British Columbia must apply to the courts in order to do so. The court must have jurisdiction to hear the case. In order to be able to divorce in the province, the couple must have been married in Canada or their marriage must be recognized by Canadian laws if it occurred in another country. Additionally, the person filing or their spouse must have lived in the province for at least one year prior to filing for divorce.

The grounds for divorce in British Columbia are all based on no-fault. People are able to demonstrate their divorce is irretrievably broken if they have been living apart from their spouse for a year or longer. Additional ways are to demonstrate that the person’s spouse was physically or mentally cruel or that their spouse committed adultery. Spouses are allowed to live together for up to 90 days if an attempt to reconcile is being made under the 1-year separation basis.

Generally, people must be residents of Canada in order to divorce. However, in cases in which a non-resident married in Canada and his or her home country does not allow the divorce because it does not recognize the Canadian marriage, the residence requirement may be waived.

If the requirements and grounds are met, then upon applying to the court for divorce, the petitioner will need to serve his or her spouse with copies and notices of the court hearing. People should keep in mind that they will have numerous issues they need to consider during their divorce case. Property division, child custody and support are all issues that will need to be decided. If people are able to do so, they may benefit by negotiating agreements with their spouses. If not, a lawyer who practices family law may be able to help.

Source: Department of Justice, “How to Apply for a Divorce“, December 18, 2014

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